Established in 1559 by Don Tristan de Luna and Spanish settlers, Pensacola is the first multiyear European settlement in the United States. As such, the city contains many areas that are historically and archaeologically important from all periods of its history. In preserving these historic and cultural resources, there is a direct relationship between Pensacola's heritage and the economic and social well-being of its citizens and visitors. More than 450 years after our founding, Pensacola is still a flourishing city, with its thriving downtown, beautiful landscape, and remarkable past.
With the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, Pensacola's preservation leaders and residents successfully lobbied for and eventually established the city's first preservation ordinance and district boundaries in 1968. Since then the Architectural Review Board has worked to evaluate all developments that affect the built environment within each of Pensacola's historic, preservation, and aesthetic review districts. Pensacola's historic districts include the Palafox Historic Business district and the Pensacola Historic District in the heart of downtown, and the neighborhoods of North Hill and Old East Hill. Each of these districts has their own distinctive history and architectural character.
Pensacola Historic District
The Pensacola Historic District is bounded to the north by Chase Street, to the east by 9th Avenue, to the west by Palafox Street, and to the south by Pensacola Bay. The district was locally designated in 1968 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. The period of significance for this district spans over 250 years, starting with the Spanish occupation of downtown Pensacola in 1754. The structures that currently comprise the Pensacola Historic District are mainly 19th and 20th century buildings. Architectural styles within this district include French Creole cottages, Victorian, Greek Revival, and many frame vernacular structures of the 19th century.
The 36-block district lies just south of Aragon Court, a modern, new urbanism development which adheres to its own, separate design code and review board.
North Hill Preservation District
The North Hill Preservation District is bounded to the north by Blount Street, to the west by DeVilliers Street, to the south by Wright Street, and to the east by Palafox Street. The city ordinance boundaries were outlined in 1973-74 and the district was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. The period of significance for this district spans two distinct periods: 1870-1910 and 1910-1930, in addition to post-1930 structures that mostly maintain continuity in size, fabric, and residential use. Architectural styles within this district include Queen Anne, Classical Revival, Tudor Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, Modern, and Bungalow.
Old East Hill Preservation District
The Old East Hill Preservation District is bounded to the north by Gadsden Street, to the east by 9th Avenue, to the south by Wright Street, and the west by Hayne Street. The preservation zoning ordinance was drafted by the East Hill Preservation Association in 1984. The district is composed mainly of residential structures and its period of significance is 1870-1920s. The architectural styles are primarily vernacular, but a few properties display major styles of the time including Craftsman, Mission, and Queen Anne.
Palafox Historic Business District
The Palafox Historic Business District is roughly bounded to the north by Wright Street, to the west by DeVilliers and Spring Streets, to the south by Main Street, and to the east by Tarragona Street. The eight-block Palafox Historic Business District was established to preserve the existing development pattern and distinctive architectural character of historic downtown's commercial district.
The district was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2016. The period of significance for this district spans three distinct periods: 1880-1914, 1915-1945, and 1946-1965. Many of the buildings exhibit masonry vernacular construction; formal styles include Greek Revival, Renaissance Revival, Chicago School and Beaux Arts, in addition to a limited number of frame vernacular buildings.
Buildings located west of the Palafox Historic Business District are part of the Governmental Center District and the Waterfront Redevelopment District is located to the south.
Governmental Center District
Adjacent to the Palafox Historic Business District, the Governmental Center District is roughly bounded to the north by Garden Street, to the west by Coyle and DeVilliers Streets, to the south by Cedar Street, and to the east by Baylen Street. The Governmental Center District was created on February 22, 1979 with the passage of Ordinance number 04-79 by the Pensacola City Council.